Some farmers will store small amounts of grain without treatment. Ideally, you need grain to be at 14% moisture or below for safe storage over an extended duration. As the moisture content increases, the safe storage period decreases. To avoid grain heating, it should be stored in shallow piles. This, however, requires you to have big sheds.


Last week Peter Thomas Keaveney outlined some of the machinery used in crimping or dry-rolling.

Depending on what process you undertake the cost will range from €15/t for dry-rolling all the way up to €50/t depending on what product you use as an additive and storage facilities.

While this is the initial cost of completing the job, often the unseen cost is the loss of quality or spoilage at feed-out if you don’t have the right shed/storage pit. Ideally, these types of feeds need a very small feed face so that spoilage is minimised and you move through the pit face quicker each day when feeding is ongoing.

Crimping offers the advantage in that it can be easily stored in an outdoor silage pit and covered with polythene. It’s not as critical to keep the grain as dry as with other options.

Crimping is still popular in certain areas, but cutting crops at 30% moisture can be tougher on the combine so some grain farmers don’t like doing it.

Propionic acid

The use of organic acids, such as propionic acid, to preserve grain is what some farmers use to store grain. Applied to mature grain with moisture content from 16% to 24%, propionic acid preservation is around a long time.

Grain can be rolled and the acid applied at the same time and you can feed it the next day if you want. Treated grain should be stored on a dry, clean floor. If you are feeding maize or grass silage with a pH of 4 and then feed acid-treated grain with a pH of 4.5, you are increasing the risk of acidosis. This is fine if you are feeding only 3kg or 4kg of grain, but if you are trying to push cattle for performance, you can’t feed high volumes of this grain.

Urea/ammonia treatment

An alkaline-based product that has been increasing over the last few years is around a product known as Maxammon. Grain treated with this product can be fed almost ad-lib, provided cattle are built up to that level of feed slowly, as with any feed.

Because the product is alkaline-based, it raises the pH of the grain to between 8.5 and 9.5. If you are feeding it with grass or maize silage with a pH in the region of 4, then you arrive at an average pH of close to 6.5. This is ideal for good rumen function.

In simple terms, the additive is a combination of feed-grade urea, full-fat soya bean, essential oils and an advanced grain enzyme which will release ammonia within the ensiled grain, thereby rapidly preserving the grain. It can be applied using a diet feeder and either rolling the grain before treatment or just ahead of feeding.

Most will roll the grain and apply the additive all at once. In order to get the benefits of the product, it should be sealed under plastic for two weeks. It can also be stored outside. However, no moisture must be able to get into the grain.


All you need, once the grain is rolled and treated, is a large shed with dry roof and walls and your grain will be preserved perfectly. Some farmers section off a part of a shed with large square bales and a sheet of plastic and drop 30t to 40t of grain beside it. Ideally, you need grain at about 18% to 20% moisture content, which is the normal moisture content for grain.

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